A new biography asks, "Who is Tiger Woods?"

Last Updated Mar 29, 2018 7:08 PM EDT

Update: Please see below for responses from Woods' representatives and the authors.


A new biography, "Tiger Woods" (published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS), uncovers new information about the life and career of one of the greatest athletes ever. The co-authors, investigative journalist Armen Keteyian and Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Benedict, did more than 400 interviews with people close to Woods.

Appearing on "CBS This Morning," Keteyian said their goal in writing the book was to understand Woods. 

"The predominant question for both Jeff and I was, 'Who is Tiger Woods?' To understand Tiger, you really have to go back to the beginning, and really to his grandparents on his father's side, on Earl's side. That was really our mission: to take the whole arc of his life," he said.

"There have been a number of books written about Tiger, but they were all kind of segmented into certain parts of his life. Jeff and I tried to do this 360-degree view.

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Simon & Schuster

"When you start with that question, 'Who is Tiger Woods,' the other question is the price of fame and the price of genius."

The book goes in depth to explore Tiger's relationship with his parents, Earl and Kultida Woods.

Born in Thailand, Kutilda (also known as Tida) came to America knowing little of the language or culture, Benedict said: "She marries a man who was married when he married her, who was very unfaithful. So, from the very beginning she sort of swept into this situation in a relationship and in a country that's very foreign to her."

She gave to birth to Tiger, her only child, in 1975. "It happens right when her husband is taking up the sport of golf, and he's basically living in the garage when he's not at work, and the baby starts coming in and sitting in the high chair and watching his dad hit golf balls," Benedict said.

"So for her to have time with her son, she sits next to him in the high chair and in between hits puts food in his mouth, Gerber baby food or whatever it is. To me, if you look at formation of this young man, it all starts right there."

Keteyian and Benedict believe the disparaging language that Earl (who died in 2006) used towards his son had a lasting impact.

"Tiger's inability to show gratitude, apologize or express appreciation was rooted in his upbringing. His mother pampered him like a prince; his father rarely uttered the words 'thank you' or 'I'm sorry,'" they write in the book.

"Earl is a guy, I think, who felt like they were entitled," Benedict said. "When he recognized that his son had a talent that no one else had -- I mean, there were certain things about Tiger that he just had, and then there were other parts of him that I think were taught to him by the way he was raised -- but there was no question he had talent that was, I think, God-given. He was born with certain abilities that were honed by the way he was raised.

"But once they got out on the circuit as a junior golfer -- and the equivalent of Little League and Peewee Football for him was golf tournaments, where he's crushing everyone -- his dad just expected when they went to people's homes and tournaments, they were the best and should be treated that way. But [Tiger] didn't see, 'Thank you, we appreciate you.' He never saw that."

"His dad predicted at a very early age that he would be the greatest to ever play the game," said co-host Gayle King.

"'The chosen one,'" said Benedict. "Imagine that on your shoulders growing up."

Last year Tiger wrote a book in which he talked about the disparaging language that his father used towards him. "I have two sons and two daughters," said Benedict. "When I read that language, the first I thought was, wow, I can't imagine speaking that way to one of my children and expecting that that's going to make them do better. But Tiger looks back and reflects on that now and says it helped make him who he is on the golf course. That's one of the reasons he's so hard to beat."

Keteyian says that the golf star once considered remote and inaccessible has changed.

"I think it changed starting last year about this time, when he found himself on the side of a road in Florida with one helluva rock star cocktail of opioids in his system," he said. "That was the bottom for Tiger. And because of his kids, and because he's now healthy for the first time in five years -- but he's spiritually healthy and emotionally healthy for the first time, I think, in his life."

Why? "I think because what happened on that Florida road was a complete wake-up call for him. And I think now he sees his children, he does not want to have the life that he had with his parents for his kids."


Update: CBS News received the following statements since the original segment with Tiger Woods authors Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict aired on "CBS This Morning" on March 26, 2018.

Response from Tiger Woods' agent Mark Steinberg and publicist Glenn Greenspan:

"This book is just a re-hash from older books and articles and it's hard to tell if there's anything original at all. The authors even crib from Tiger's book last year, the 1997 Masters, more than 80 times in almost half the chapters, 21 times in Chapter 11 alone. It's clear the sources they actually rely on are people that haven't spoken or interacted with Tiger for many years, most with ulterior motives.   

"The book is also littered with egregious errors. It describes Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer applauding at a dinner they never attended (p. 153), gets the ending wrong from the 1995 US Amateur (p. 97), gives tournaments (p. 130) and even the Tour the wrong names (p.146 and 287)  quotes a broadcaster who wasn't present at an event (p. 217), invents a press gathering that didn't occur (p. 320), gives the wrong name of Tiger's college golf coach (10 times beginning on p. 38-39) and portrays Tom Watson captaining the 2016 US Ryder Cup Team (p. 392). And those are just a few of the careless mistakes that jumped out at first glance despite the writers claiming they worked on the book for three years. 

"So if the authors can't even manage basic truth and accuracy on matters like that, then why should readers take anything else in this work seriously?"

Response from authors Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict:

"Between January 2016 and February 2018, we made repeated attempts to interview Tiger himself through his representatives, Glenn Greenspan and Mark Steinberg. As we write in our book, they imposed conditions for Tiger's cooperation that no serious journalist would accept. As for our sourcing and research, as responsible biographers we are very open in our book about the use of Tiger's own extensive written and public statements as a crucial source of insights, facts, and reflections. We credit these and other previously written books and articles about Tiger Woods for providing valuable reference and verification for our narrative. If we have made any inadvertent typographical or factual errors, we will correct them in future printings of the book. But let us be clear: We stand by the accuracy of our reporting and are proud to have produced a critically acclaimed book that answers a question many have asked for many years: Who is Tiger Woods?

"What you're witnessing here is prototypical Steinberg and Greenspan. An attempt to kill the messenger without actually acknowledging the message. We've now had time to sort through all the so-called "egregious" errors. Most are simply laughable - issues of style over substance. For example, our reference to the Masters over the official Masters Tournament; using the phrase "the Tour" on a page with multiple references instead of repeating the more formal PGA Tour. What's interesting is they steer completely clear of the most substantial and insightful sentences in the book."

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.